This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Ps. Ixxxiv. 7.
Westminster Abbey, St Mark's Day, 1879.
It is not necessary to attempt to fix the exact circumstances under which these words were written. The Psalter in its spiritual fulness belongs to no special time ; and this Psalm is the hymn of the Divine life in all ages. It brings before us the grace and tJte glory of sacrifice, of service, of progress, where God alone, the Lord of Hosts, is the source and the strength and the end of effort. It is true now, and it is true always, that the voice of faith repeats, as in old time, through loneliness, through labour, through sorrow, its unchanging s\x2xa., from strength to strength. A Northumbrian saint, it is said, carried up into Heaven in a trance, heard the same thanksgiving rendered by a choir of angels before the Throne of God. It must be so. The Lord God is a sun to illuminate and a shield to protect. In the pilgrimage of worship that which is personal becomes social. The trust of the believer passes into the trust of the Church. The expectation of one is fulfilled in the joy of all. If the travellers grow weary on their way, it is that they may find unexpected refreshment ; if they faint, it is that they may feel the new power which re-quickens them. They go from strength to I—2
4 FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH. strength; every one of them appeareth before God in Zion. This law of movement — of movement which, through the love of God is progress — is realised throughout the Divine life. It is realised in its spring: from faith to faith is the charter of Christian confidence. It is realised in its process : grace for grace is the blessing on Christian labour. It is realised in its issue : from glory to glory is the crown of Christian hope. In a word, the law of life, personal and universal, as God has willed, is summed up in this — from strength to strength. It is not true of men, and it is not true of humanity, that their sad journey is ever further from the East. If they move westward, it is with the light, and again towards the light. Without dissembling or extenuating the effects of sin, without forgetting the dark mysteries and open sorrows which hang over generations, centuries, continents, we dare to repeat the sentence — not indeed in exultation, and yet without doubt, as the lesson of the past — from strength to strength. Every nation, every Church, every diocese, can furnish illustrations of the truth. Nowhere, I think, is it shewn more vividly than in that great Northumbrian diocese, unique in its history, in its privileges, in its significance, to which our thoughts are turned to-day. The aspect of Christianity is changed since Gregory, with distant vision, marked out for the future Metropolitan of York twelve Suffragans, whose
FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH. 5
number is yet only half completed ; since Aidan gained acceptance for the faith among the rude tribes by wise gentleness, and found a king to interpret his message in the strange tongue ; since Oswald held fast the forest cross upon the battle-field, the first sign of Christ in the North, and moved his soldiers to win the victory for and through the Lord Whom he had acknowledged ; since Bede, in his holy calm, used patiently the gathered treasures of all the learning of Europe — Irish, Galilean, Roman, Greek — and so was enabled to re-kindle the dying flame of culture in the West ; since Egelric, last but one of the Saxon Bishops of Durham, wasting away in prison at Westminster, left his grave in the Abbey a place of pilgrimage; since Walcher, the first Bishop after the Conquest, fell a victim to the people whom he sought sternly to coerce by his civil power; since Richard girded Hugh Pudsey with the sword, as Earl of Sadberge, and granted the dignity to his successors for ever ; since Antony Beck, unfurling the sacred banner of St Cuthbert, led the van of the army which brought the coronation-stone from Scone to Westminster ; since Richard de Bury, the friend of Petrarch, insisted on the study of Greek and Hebrew, and provided for the pursuit of arts along the way of strict and careful scholarship ; since Tunstall gave for the use of the students at Cambridge a copy of the first Bible printed in the original tongues, and guarded his people with tender forethought, so that not one
6 FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH. victim fell from among them during the reign of Mary ; since Cromwell established a college at Durham '' of the foundation of the Lord Protector," believing that "it might produce such happy and glorious fruits as are scarce thought of or foreseen ; "
since Cosin, who was consecrated to the See, as no one since till to-day, and that, by the side of Brian Walton, within these walls, repaired the ruins of five and twenty years, and earnestly maintained the immunity of his diocese from sending burgesses to Parliament as the sole responsible guardian of the liberties of his people ; since Butler, in the sight " of the general decay of religion," pressed his clergy to " instruct people in the importance of external religion," to restore churches, and to multiply services, that so they might bring home to men the practical power of piety, which he rightly felt to be the proper answer to scepticism. Such scenes, such names — not to come down to later times — bring before us the memories of a chequered life, grievously troubled by passion and self-seeking, yet continuous with a mighty power and unbroken by revolutions. The saint, the scholar, the soldier, the courtier, the statesman, the divine, have added something to the Episcopal inheritance of the See of Aldwin. The sword of Beck, and the thorn-tree of Butler, and the throne of Van Mildert are more than idle relics. In spite of men's weaknesses and vices, in spite of periods of corruption
FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH. 7 and sloth, we can say, as we look back over the slow moulding of the northern Palatinate to the new order — -from strength to strength. Two features, as it seems to me, give to the Diocese of Durham a peculiar character, the early and lasting combination of spiritual and civil power in the hands of the Bishop, and the singular devotion of the clergy to the study of Holy Scripture. The coronet which in this one case encircles the mitre —
the manuscript of St John's Gospel which was found upon the breast of Cuthbert — are eloquent symbols of truths which have a present application. The one expresses in a striking shape the claim of the Faith to deal with the whole sum of life; the other suggests the fertile and yet unchanging rule of doctrine in the written Word. If we cling to the symbols it is not that we wish to recall the forms of the past, but to interpret them. And do we not feel that the truths thus shadowed are those which, above all, we need to have brought home to us in our present trial t We need to see embodied in our society the spirit of counsel and the spirit of prophecy ; — the spirit of counsel which shall enter into the questionings and speculations, the problems and the victories of our modern life, as part of the domain of the Church; and the spirit of prophecy which shall interpret to our own age the message of Christ, Incarnate and Ascended, as it is written, once for all, in the Bible.
8 FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH. When we think upon such needs we see that they correspond, in part at least, with the twofold work of our unique Episcopate, on which is laid the burden of statesmanship and the burden of spiritual guidance. In such a body no skill in administration, no power of personal influence, no warmth of religious feeling can supply the place of large knowledge and deep insight. The strength of Catholic learning and the courage of large-hearted policy must find a place in the College of our spiritual fathers if we are to be saved from the waste and exhaustion of isolated and discordant labours. A great society cannot exist without great ideas ; and great ideas perish unless they find worthy utterance. To organise is not to rule : merely to repeat a
formula is not to instruct. The ruler must grasp the just proportion of the objects and duties of government; he must measure the wants and capacities of all his subjects; he must develope vital powers and not simply marshal them ; he must never lose sight of his ideal while he does the little which is within his reach. The teacher again must be ready to bring out of his treasure things new as well as old ; he must never be weary of translating into the current idiom the thoughts which his ancestors have mastered, and never backward to welcome the fresh voices of later wisdom. It is a natural consequence of our restless and busy life that we are turned by multitudinous details
FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH. 9 from the steady contemplation of the broad aspects of things. It is easier to crowd the day with little duties than to spend it in the silent study of enigmas which yield no immediate answer. But the issue is already seen to be disastrous. We hear it said that "a large part of the business of the wise is to counteract the efforts of the good." And meanwhile the growing complexity of life brings widespread hesitancy and doubt and moral relaxation. We feel ourselves, if it be but for rare moments, that there are whole regions of life on which we have not looked ; and we tremble at the phantoms with which we unconsciously people them. In such a state of things we cannot but turn to those whose position requires them to regard the greatest problems of the time under the responsibility of action, who must contemplate things not as students only, but as statesmen, for that spirit of counsel which we need. Nor do I fear that I shall be
misunderstood if I say that our ancient Universities supply with singular fulness the discipline which may train the spiritual counsellor. Nowhere else, I believe, is a generous sympathy with every form of thought and study more natural or more effective; nowhere else is it equally easy to gauge the rising tide of opinion and feeling which will prevail after us ; nowhere else is there in equal measure that loyal enthusiasm which brings the highest triumphs of faith within the reach of labour. He who has
lO FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH. striven there towards the ideal of student and teacher will have gained powers fitted for a larger use. He who has lived in communion with the greatest minds of all ages will not be hasty to make his own thoughts the measure of truth. He who has watched the specious transformation of assertion into fact will not withdraw anything from rigorous inquiry. Not one acquisition of toilsome research will be unfruitful in lessons of patient endurance. Not one rule of exact criticism will be unserviceable in fixing the limits of possible knowledge. The character of a scholar has in its direct force infinitely greater power than any product of his skill. Literary work, however perfect, reflects in some degree the passing temper of the age; but character enters into the very depths of life, quickening, moulding, inspiring: the one is a fair building, the other is a tree whose seed is in itself. The mode of ministry may change, but in the service of sacrifice every endowment, no less than every worshipper, shall appear before God in Zion : they, too, will go from strength to strength. The memories of the old princely rights of the See of Durham move us to recognise once more this aspect of the Episcopate as the organ of spiritual
counsel. They witness now to the charge which is laid upon the heads of the Christian society to regard all social questions as proper subjects of their thought. They are, when rightly interpreted, an answer to the pitiless verdict that " the entire theory of the Church
FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH. II is antagonistic to any concentrated or consistent scheme for raising the earthly condition of the masses.'' Our present distresses emphasise the urgency of the call. Nor do I think that there will be any rest for nations till the leaders of Christendom bring home to the world the truths which they hold. Nothing but our Faith can deal finally with the problems of democracy. Eleven centuries have not modified the power of its message. Without it life is but a gleam of light between two depths of chilling gloom — out of the darkness into the darkness — according to the image of the Northern chief And, on the other hand, I know no problem of society which the Gospel is not able to illuminate. It proclaims the true basis of fellowship in the Incarnation; it ennobles and concentrates the many offices which are united in one body ; it reveals the abiding supremacy of character, which is independent of the accidental circumstances of life. Nor may we stop here ; for I will not shrink from adding that the English Church seems to me to be marked out by its history, by its inheritance, by its constitution, reaching through all classes, in contact with all religions, in sympathy with all truth, able in St Paul's sense to become all things to all men, as destined by God to give expression to the social Gospel for which we are waiting. Such a Gospel lies in Christianity ; such an office appears to be committed to our Church ; and as yet
12 FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH. we have not acknowledged it. Carf we then wonder that we are met by sad doubts and suspicions, that we are charged with insincerity, that we are inwardly disheartened by the sense of a mission unrecognised ? To gain quietness and confidence we must look for the manifestation of a power of life which shall vindicate for Christ every interest and every faculty of man. To provide for this, to call it out, to cherish it, is above all things an Episcopal work. Here lies for our age that care for the weak which is characteristically committed to our Bishops. The imposition of hands by which they appoint ministers and people alike to a priestly office in different spheres requires to receive its full interpretation. They who bless all for life's work in the name of God must claim for God as a harmonious service every energy of personal and social power. A Bishop is not the father of the clergy only, but of the Church — the head not of an order only, but of a people. And let us not doubt that when our Bishops have measured the problems of the age by the spirit of counsel, they will receive the spirit of prophecy in answer to the prayer of faith. This spirit comes through the old channels. Therefore it is that the Bible is delivered again into the Bishop's hands, but with a new charge. It is not enough that he should " preach the Word of God." He must " think upon the things contained in that book" with resolute
FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH. 1 3
meditation. He must be " diligent in them, that the increase coming thereby may be manifest unto all men." On him rests the responsibility of mastering the latest meaning of the written Word, and commending it practically to the world. For the Scriptures, like the human character of Christ, are of no age and of no country. Their last utterance will not be spoken while the world lasts. To each generation it is given to see something more of their wealth. Already, I will venture to say, the facts which have been established in our time as to the relations of man to man and of man to nature have filled with a new meaning mysterious passages of St Paul, and revealed fresh depths in the historic message of the Gospel. It is hard indeed to realise that in these ways God is speaking to us. For many, as of old, the Divine voice is but a thunderpeal. We want then the disciplined guidance of the prophet ; but we can feel that the whole significance of life will be changed when we have learnt to listen for tidings of the will of our God and Saviour from every investigator of His works; when the enthusiasm of discovery is no longer met by the cry " No further," but hallowed by the petition, Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth. To refuse to welcome any truths, however fragmentary they may be, to dissemble them, to force them to the model of our prepossessions, is to dishonour the Spirit which is sent in Christ's Name. Little by little He is unfold-
14 FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH. ing now that Name on which all being is a commentary. Theology, Christian Theology, cannot be stationary. Every fact which is added to our knowledge of man or of the world illuminates our knowledge of God. Here, also, the Psalmist's words are true — -from strength to strength.
We look then — we must look — to our Episcopate for the expression of the spirit of counsel and of the spirit of prophecy. It may perhaps seem chimerical to seek from those who are overburdened by routine duties the fulfilment of these loftiest functions, which can only be fulfilled in spaces of calm thought. I know that the type of Episcopal work which I have endeavoured to indicate has grown somewhat strange to us under the pressure of our recent revivals. I know that it will be difficult to realise it under the conditions of present custom. But every circumstance of our gathering to-day points to such an effort as the aim of our prayers. The traditions of Durham, the studies and the teachings of Cambridge, the popular activities of St Paul's, the subtle debatings at Westminster, all enforce the same charge. Let not one fragment then be lost. With one heart we ask this morning for him " who is called to the office and ministry of a Bishop," echoing, as we trust, the words which Christ Himself speaks through the facts of life, that over every old gift may be written, in the new office "from strength to strength'.' Something, no doubt, must be sacrificed if the
FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH. IS end is to be gained. We know, or rather we do not know, what we have sacrificed at Cambridge. But if the end appears to be attainable, every needful sacrifice will be cheerfully made. Men are growing weary, I think, of the restless activity which makes reflection impossible where it is most necessary. Let it but be seen that the whole life is given to the office, and they will be content to postpone their own wants. In the highest places there must be a choice of work. Much must be left undone that that which
is most needful may be done. To determine what is most needful is the supreme responsibility of leadership ; and he will best fulfil the office of spiritual government who has courage to regard the proportion between the manifold demands which are made upon his care ; who has patience to labour in silence for the distant harvest which he will not reap ; who has sympathy to win and to use that devotion of others by which great leaders are strong ; who can follow the movements of science, of philanthropy, of legislation, from the vantage-ground of Faith; who can recognise the Divine call which bids him offer no conventional service but that which the past has given him in practical experience and intellectual wealth. Nor may we forget that in Durham a University is ready to minister to the Diocese, and that it finds a home for the Bishop within its walls. Such a position is, I believe, unparalleled. At length the anti-
l6 FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH. cipations of Cromwell appear to await an unexpected accomplishment. The Festival of St Mark offers the memories of the school of Alexandria. But, however the opportunity may be used, we cannot mistake its significance. A life spent in dealing with the young may bias my own judgment ; but I feel that there are untold victories for Christ within the reach of him to whom it may be given to keep alive and strengthen the simple devotion and the high desires of early manhood when entering on the active business of life. There is often a rude contrast between our first ideals and our first practical efforts. In the shock many let Faith slip, many try to support it by artificial stays. On all sides we banish to some distant time the immediate action of God. We treasure as dead relics
the forces which we should recognise as living powers. Because the fashion of the world changes we think that Heaven is farther off now than in the childhood of the Church. But let our Fathers in God make it clear that every righteous activity is a Divine service, that every aspiration after truth is, consciously or unconsciously, a looking to Christ, that every Article of the Creed is a inotive and a help to holiness ; let them proclaim again the words of Apostles and Evangelists without disparaging the partial formulas in which men of old time have translated them, and without accepting any one formula as final and exhaustive ; let them offer as the scene of human labour a world not left fatherless, echoing with spiritual
FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH. 1 7 voices, and bound together through all its parts with underlying harmonies of love ; let them keep steadily before the eyes of men the weightier matters of the law, judgment, m,ercy, and faith, which bring into their true place deep and doubtful questionings, framed of necessity in imperfect language ; let them gather round them, as Bede bade Egbert, such a companionship as may shew by a simple life the power of that Presence on which they look ; let them hold forth in all its splendour to eager souls the ideal of that Kingdom in which each earthly achievement finds its consummation and each earthly effort its hallowing ; and I can well believe that a revolution will be effected, even in a single generation, more beneficent than that of the Fourth Century in social influence ; more disciplined than that of the Thirteenth in personal self-sacrifice ; more comprehensive than that of the Sixteenth in the co-ordination of truth. As the vision rises before us, as we feel that it answers to the inherent power of our Faith, as we
confess that it lingers far off, dim and fleeting, through our great fault, we cry again, bowed down by past failures, disheartened by our present divisions, paralysed by the measures of our hopes. Who is sufficient for these things ? There can be but one answer — he who wholly forgets himself in God Who called him ; he who " lays down at the footstool of God his successes and his failures, his hopes and his fears, his knowledge w. S. 2
1 8 FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH. and his ignorance, his weakness and his strength, his misgivings and his confidences — all that he is and all that he might be — content to take up thence just that which God shall give him\" That is our trust now. To give up the tranquil home of thirty years, to suspend abruptly the fulfilment of a chosen life-work, to face the necessity of realising under untried conditions a new ideal, shall be, by God's grace, for him who hears only the voice of God bidding him enter on a pilgrimage of Faith, to go from strength to strength. So it is that words spoken as on this day two years ago come back to the speaker and to us, sealed by manifold blessings. The prayers which were then answered add confidence to our new petitions. We believe in the Divine commission, As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you. We believe in the Divine assurance, Lo ! I am with you all the days to the end of the world. We believe in the Divine victory, /, if
T be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me. And our faith is turned into supplication. Let us forget all but that charge, that Presence, that Redemption. There must be in the outward life checks, lonelinesses, defects. We cannot always keep at the level of our loftiest thoughts. But for the soul which offers itself to God, which accepts — because it is His will — the burden of command, which claims — ' Dr Lightfoot's Sermon at the Consecration of the Bishop of Truro, St Mark's Day, 1877.
FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH. 19 because it is His promise — the spirit of counsel and the spirit of prophecy; the words shall be fulfilled, through the discipline of disappointment and the joy of sacrifice, from strength to strength. O Lord God of Hosts, blessed is the man that putteth his trust in Thee.
When the Bishop was asked to add a short motto from the Greek Testament to his signature in an album of portraits of the Revisers of the Authorised Version, he wrote ANApi'zecee KpATAioYcGe. (^Quit you like men, be strong.) I Cor. xvi. 13.
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